Man Who Tried To Bomb Israeli Targets Released Khalid Al-Jawary, 63, was released from prison Thursday into the custody of U.S. immigration officials. His attempts to bomb Israeli targets in the 1970s failed, and he was arrested in 1993 after a global manhunt. U.S. officials are trying to link him to other terrorist acts.
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Man Who Tried To Bomb Israeli Targets Released

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Man Who Tried To Bomb Israeli Targets Released

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Man Who Tried To Bomb Israeli Targets Released

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris. A man who had hoped to blow up Israeli targets in New York City 36 years ago has been released from federal prison today. He had spent 15 years behind bars. His case, like those of the Guantanamo detainees, presents this problem: How does the U.S. release prisoners it isn't sure it should release? To tell the story, NPR's Dina Temple-Raston went to the corner of Fifth and 43rd in Manhattan.

DINA TEMPLE-RASTON: Back in 1973, this is where the Israel Discount Bank was headquartered. This was one of three Israeli targets in New York Khalid Al-Jawary had hoped to blow up. He put a bomb in a rented car and he had parked it outside the bank. The bomb didn't go off because the detonator didn't work.

Mr. CRAIG MCLAUGHLIN (FBI): There were explosive devices found at the scene.

TEMPLE-RASTON: That's the FBI's Craig McLaughlin. He is in-charge of the FBI squad handling the Al-Jawary case.

Mr. MCLAUGHLIN: They were placed in three different vehicles and these devices also had fliers with the BSO - Black September Organization - written across them.

TEMPLE-RASTON: Black September is best known as the terrorist group that murdered Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Al-Jawary's Manhattan bombings were supposed to take place just months later. He planned the explosions to coincide with the visit to New York of Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir. For almost 20 years, Al-Jawary was the subject of a global manhunt. He was finally arrested in Rome, in 1991, and was brought back to the U.S. for trial. A federal jury in New York found him guilty of planting the bombs and of being a member of Black September.

Ron Kuby was Al-Jawary's defense attorney. He says that by the time the FBI arrested Al-Jawary he was no longer a terrorist.

Mr. RON KUBY (Defense Attorney): Whatever he did as a young radical - he was basically in retirement. He had become a bureaucrat.

TEMPLE-RASTON: When he was arrested, Al-Jawary was working for the Palestinian Authority. Again, Ron Kuby.

Attorney KUBY: And the reality is that whatever danger he may have posed in 1973 - by the time of his arrest in 1991 - he posed no danger whatsoever and certainly poses no danger today.

TEMPLE-RASTON: The truth is U.S. officials are worried about releasing Al-Jawary. It isn't just that he knows how to make bombs and has been a terrorist in the past, it's also that he's emerging at a time when it is easy to plug-in to terrorist networks. So the U.S. will buy time by remanding him to immigration officials, while the FBI looks at whether it can bring new charges against him. Again, the FBI's Craig McLaughlin:

Mr. MCLAUGHLIN: We continue to review the previous investigation, looking for new leads, reviewing both physical evidence and other statements that he had made in the past.

TEMPLE-RASTON: While officials work out the details, Al-Jawary will remain in custody. U.S. authorities are in no rush to release him.

Dina Temple-Raston, NPR News, New York.

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